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The Monitor No. IV



New-York, November 30, 1775.

One would have thought that, after such repeated attestations of our determined aversion to the claims of the Parliament, a renewal of its endeavours to impose them would hardly have been undertaken in haste. But the Ministry were too much bent upon the subjugation of the Colonies, to give over the pursuit until they should be fully convinced of the absolute impracticability of succeeding in it. They were resolved to vary the plan of attack: to recur from open assault and violence, to intrigue, artifice, and illusion; foreseeing that many plausible topicks might be invented to mislead a part at least of the people, to generate intestine divisions, and, by inducing compliance to a lesser encroachment, to pave the way and prepare the minds of men by degrees for the complete establishment of all their pretensions. They flattered themselves that the publick spirit of the Americans, by too frequent fermentation, would in a great measure evaporate; and that they would with difficulty be brought to submit to the inconveniences, of another struggle, and again to obstruct the golden streams of commerce, for an object seemingly of so little importance as a duty of three pence a pound on tea.

As the East-India Company must have been thoroughly apprized of the temper and resolutions of the Colonies, it is scarcely to be supposed they would have hazarded so much of their, property on such a precarious footing as that on which, it must necessarily be sent to America, while encumbered with a duty that gave so general offence, unless they had some sure prospect of retribution in case of


accidents. It is therefore extremely probable, what has been more than once positively suggested by our friends on the other side of the water, that the Ministry either purchased the tea to make the intended experiment, or engaged to indemnify the Company for whatever loss they might sustain by a miscarriage. Neither is it likely they would have done this, and risked throwing the Empire into new convulsions and disorders, if they had not been resolute to drive matters to extremity, and to bring the contest to a final issue.

They expected that one side of this dilemma would take place: either that the Colonies, fatigued with former efforts, unwilling to undergo fresh agitations, deceived by artful miscolourings, lulled by a consideration of the trifling sum of the tax, or from a compound of all these motives, would most of them be prevailed with to permit the introduction of the tea and the payment of the duty; or that they would be reduced to the necessity of destroying it, in order to prevent those disagreeable circumstances, Should the former happen, their scheme would be in a fair way for a perfect accomplishment. They might afterwards plead our own voluntary deliberate consent to their right of taxing us. Strong parties would have been formed among us; violent heats and animosities engendered. The precedent would have had a powerful influence, both in the opinions of the people of Britain and in our own; and if our enemies were masters of a tolerable share of address and dexterity, they might then with the greatest ease lead us on, step by step, to the point they intended, whence the retreat would continually become more difficult, and at last impossible. But should the latter fall out, which was most probable, a procedure so bold, and so much out of the common track, would naturally excite scruples in tender minds, and afford a spacious field for invective and declamation to their agents and creatures. They might thence extract a pretext to sanctify or palliate future violences; and, under the idea of chastising a breach of private property, might, with more appearance of justice, and with greater prospect of success, proceed in their long concerted plan of despotism. They hoped to gain many partisans, both in England and America, who, disgusted at a seeming outrage and act of injustice, would be easily persuaded to view all their measures as entirely of a penal complexion, and designed only to procure a reparation for damage wantonly committed on our part. Hence they supposed our councils would be disunited and discordant, our opposition feeble, partial, and transitory, easily to be counteracted and overcome by any considerable, exertions of vigour and perseverance on their side.

These views were subtle; and, though the event has not been fully answerable to them, they have obtained a degree of success much to be regretted by every real friend to this injured Country. It happened that the tea sent to Boston was the first which arrived in America; and the people, having no other alternative but to suffer its being imported and the duty paid, or to destroy it, deemed the latter course most politick and safe. From all the other ports except Charlestown, where it was accidentally landed, it was despatched immediately back to England.

This act, provoked by the forcible intrusion of an article loaded with an illegal tax, was seized, with the utmost avidity, by the ministerial cabal, as a handle for charging those who perpetrated it with the most heinous and inexpiable guilt. The banners of vengeance were forthwith displayed, and furious penalties, without the formality of a trial, inflicted, very disproportionate to the crime, even supposing it to be a real one. The most arbitrary and exasperating intentions were announced in both Houses of Parliament, while nothing less than bringing America to his feet would satisfy the imperious Minister. At a single stroke, the memorable Port Bill totally demolished the flourishing trade of the offending Town; nor was there any room left to avoid the evil, by making such requital for the injury done, as the nature of it might seem to demand. The conditions of the act were too rigorous and destructive to be complied with. It required not only payment for the simple value of the tea, which was sufficient, but for the amount of the duty upon it, an indefinite submission to the laws and authority of Parliament, and satisfaction for the losses that might have been incurred by the officers of His Majesty' s customs and others; vesting a


discretionary power in the Governour, ultimately to judge of the sufficiency of the atonement to be made, and to grant or withhold a dispensation, as he should think best.

This, however, was not enough to gratify their vindictive rage. At the heels of it came the act for annulling the charter and altering the Government of the Massachusetts — a stretch of power that could not be submitted to without abandoning every idea of liberty and equity. To change the fundamental constitution of any civil society is the highest possible act of sovereignty; nor can it ever be done, consistent with any principles of freedom, unless by the general will of the community itself. The same pretended right by which the Parliament has ventured to make the alteration in question would extend to the abolition of all our Governments, and to the erection of the most insupportable tyrannies in their stead. This would overthrow at once all the ramparts of our security, and leave us a defenceless prey to a set of men who, there is a moral certainty, would think it their interest to oppress us by every device ingenious rapine could invent.

The strange partiality of Administration, in these respects, discloses their designs in a manner that must carry conviction to every person who is not wilfully blind. Why level all their fury and correction at Boston alone? Did not all the other Provinces partake in their guilt, by forcing back the tea, and tacitly approving of their conduct in its destruction? Did not New-York act a part, perhaps less justifiable, in the treatment of Captain Chambers' s tea, and on that account deserve an equal portion of punishment? In spite of every subterfuge to the contrary, the most natural answer to these questions is this: the Ministry, sensible that the principal impediment to their schemes lay in the great populousness and unconquerable spirit of liberty manifested by the New-England Colonies, and knowing, also, that the Massachusetts generally took the lead among them, concluded that the only method to bring the Americans into a state of thraldom, was to undermine and evert their liberties where their greatest strength lay; that, in order to this, it was good policy to make a particular attack, under the notion of punishing a particular transgression — hoping by that means to prevent a sympathy in sufferings, from a sense of common danger, and to discourage a cordial union and mutual support, in which the safety of our rights must always consist. The penetration of the Colonists, in general, was too great not to perceive the latent mischief through so thin a veil; but the bait was swallowed by numbers, who are of less jealous and vigilant disposition than is absolutely necessary in a free Government. A few artful men behind the curtain, strengthening themselves with the symbols and prepossessions of party, took occasion, by degrees, to distemper the minds of their friends and associates. Concealing their real aims, they successfully played upon the passions and prejudices of men who were predisposed to consider them as the oracles of wisdom, and to acquiesce in whatever they recommended. They first persuaded them to differ from the rest of their countrymen about the mode of obtaining the redress of grievances by themselves allowed to exist. They next taught them to doubt the reality of those grievances; from doubt they led them to disbelief; and at length they have convinced the silly, ductile creatures, that they have no rights or privileges whatsoever, but which are derived from the gratuitous indulgence and mere bounty of their beneficent masters on the other side of the Atlantick. Hence those boisterous clamours which have been fulminated, from first to last, against the restrictions laid on our trade, and against every other measure the least tinctured with vigour or spirit.

For the sake of present brevity, I shall defer the conclusion of the general subject in hand to a future paper.